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Olive Branch Tax Relief http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com A Treasure Coast TAX PROFESSIONAL YOU CAN TRUST Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:00:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Dean Zongrone’s Five Principles For Spending That Actually Produces Satisfaction http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/dean-zongrones-five-principles-for-spending-that-actually-produces-satisfaction/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:00:12 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/dean-zongrones-five-principles-for-spending-that-actually-produces-satisfaction/ We’re all still basking in the World Champion US Women’s Soccer Team over here in the Olive Branch Tax Relief offices. Pretty amazing to see so much excellence, and on behalf of our country. Here’s to hoping for continued unification within our culture in the aftermath. There’s lots of conversation about different pay scales for […]

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We’re all still basking in the World Champion US Women’s Soccer Team over here in the Olive Branch Tax Relief offices. Pretty amazing to see so much excellence, and on behalf of our country. Here’s to hoping for continued unification within our culture in the aftermath.

There’s lots of conversation about different pay scales for the men’s and women’s national teams, and rather than get into that debate, I thought it might be worthwhile to step back and consider what’s underneath all of these salary/payment/money conversations.

Because, as I always like to point out, what lies beneath these conversations is a deeper conversation about what it is we really value.

And THAT conversation is one that I think every family should engage in, as well. Because you can spend your life chasing the brass ring of “better income” … but what if it actually doesn’t make you any happier?

Dean Zongrone’s Five Principles For Spending That Actually Produces Satisfaction

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn

Creating a budget really shouldn’t be the place where financial decisions begin. Instead, a comprehensive look at what you most care about and how you want to live your life is the best place to start, even before budget categories are determined.

This becomes especially clear when we consider how to raise our children with a proper financial mindset. We want them to learn how to earn, how to save (and invest), and how to spend. Unfortunately, this doesn’t spring up for them from the womb!

When speaking with our clients about their financial decisions, these are the sort of conversations that ultimately prove to be the most meaningful — often life-changing.

We get the opportunity to help them discover not only how they want to use their money, but perhaps even more rewardingly — how to align that spending with the things they care most about.

Here’s one of the places where we start:

Rich people in South Carolina don’t clutter their lives with liabilities — they make investments.

As a way of contrast, those in the middle class tend to accumulate such items, and are often forced to make payments on them (too-expensive cars, boats, etc.). And, of course, those who are stuck in a cycle of poverty usually see themselves as buying “things”.

The problem here isn’t that those who are poor, or “middle class” aren’t wealthy — it’s that they haven’t taken the time to figure out a healthy approach to their spending.

There is a book by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton (called The Science of Happier Spending) which chronicles the “research distinguishing spending that satisfies from that which disappoints”. The authors give us five principles of the kind of spending that actually produces satisfaction. Here they are…

1. Experiences satisfy more than material things.

2. Too much indulgence wears down. Making it rarer makes it more satisfying.

3. The best investment is usually in your time.

4. Flipping the credit game — “pay now, use later” versus “pay later, use now” — gives a sense of anticipation which is far better than immediate pleasure combined with the later pain of paying for something already consumed.

5. It is happier to spend on others rather than on ourselves.

I’d say that’s a great place to start in having these conversations.

For example, recognizing that time is in much more of a limited quantity than money (as the adage says: “We are each only given 24 hours in a day”) means that it makes sense to evaluate how you are approaching the “spending” and stewardship of your time — and that it often makes sense to pay money for more of it.

The wealthy see the value of their time, and they regularly invest in it by paying others to free it up. This could range from paying for lawn care and cooking — or even sometimes paying for someone else to drive them to and from work. And this often forces them to think about using their time in the most valuable way possible.

You are the only one who can be a mother or father to your children. You are the only one who can be a spouse to your partner. You are the only one who can do the things that only you can uniquely do.

Bringing your money together with the things you most deeply care about isn’t always easy … but it IS worth it.

And this is what my team and I are here for. When you come to us for your planning this year, if you’re willing, let’s set a time to have a longer conversation about what you would like to do with your life. Because that’s really where everything comes together.

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Three FAFSA Tips to Help South Carolina Taxpayers Get Their High School Grads Ready for College http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/three-fafsa-tips-to-help-south-carolina-taxpayers-get-their-high-school-grads-ready-for-college/ Wed, 10 Jul 2019 12:02:45 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/three-fafsa-tips-to-help-south-carolina-taxpayers-get-their-high-school-grads-ready-for-college/ Independence Day is this week. Bombs. Patriotism. Picnics. Barbecue. All those things. I often write about “financial independence” this time of year (yes, I like the puns) … and when I do, invariably I get contacted by a few clients (or former clients), who communicate that they are pretty dispirited about their personal situation, that […]

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Independence Day is this week. Bombs. Patriotism. Picnics. Barbecue. All those things.

I often write about “financial independence” this time of year (yes, I like the puns) … and when I do, invariably I get contacted by a few clients (or former clients), who communicate that they are pretty dispirited about their personal situation, that anything discussing “financial independence” really seems like a pipe dream — completely unrealistic for them.

Honestly, I LOVE these kinds of emails because firstly, I know that when a few people write about it, there’s likely even more that think about it. And secondly, I get the chance to speak a word of encouragement to those that need it.

Maybe that’s you?

Don’t give up.

With all of the local South Carolina people and families out there who are going through hard times, it’s easy for them to believe that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. Especially when social media and the media keep putting the glossy and wealthy in front of our faces, it can be hard to face a different kind of facts on the ground.

But did you know that most self-made billionaires were previously bankrupt at some point in their lives? (Just Google it, you’ll see.)

In fact, it’s often the “fire” of these times of trouble which serve to clarify things — and get you making smarter financial decisions, perhaps for the first time.

So, if you’re feeling the financial heat right now, look out for the blessings in the midst of pain. I know it’s hard — but chances are, you’re being reminded of what’s REALLY important … and often, seeing this again can be a launch pad for living the kind of life that you really want to live.

And we’ll be right here in your corner.

Now … on a different note, but a similar theme. Rather than write about financial independence today (I’ve already given my sermon for the week), I thought I’d offer some pointers about when your children become more independent, i.e. go to college, and how to handle the taxes and financial aid part of it all.

Three FAFSA Tips to Help South Carolina Taxpayers Get Their High School Grads Ready for College

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” -Benjamin Franklin

Sending your kids off to relative independence in college is one of the scariest, most exciting times for a parent.

You do what you can, as a loving disciplinarian, for roughly 18 years and then after one weekend of stuffing a car full-to-the-brim and unloading it the next day … it’s all up to them. It’s so bittersweet.

Today, I want to help you (or any friend you know with kids heading off to university), to experience more sweet than bitter this season with a few FAFSA tax tips.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is becoming increasingly in-demand with ever-inflating tuition fees.

Here are three FAFSA tips that might benefit students you know and love.

1. FAFSA Data Retrieval

This first tip is arguably the most important, because it will help long you after you’re done reading this article.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will help college parents IMMENSELY when it comes to retrieving FAFSA tax info. The U.S. Department of Education recommends this IRS-backed service to conveniently access items like family earnings online.

You can share this service with anyone using this FAFSA website link which contains the IRS DRT.

 

2. FAFSA Questions. You Answer.

There are many financial details FAFSA will call for, and I want to make sure you and your college-prep people are prepared.

Here are a few FAFSA non-negotiables:

  • Social Security Number
  • The parents’ SSNs (if a dependent student)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen)
  • Federal tax info and returns
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Cash, savings and checking account information

In regard to the information listed above, I’ll say this: gathering such info is one thing, but understanding how each piece correlates to FAFSA is another. I would love to help any college-ready family with this process, and it starts with us sitting down to meet. Please give me a call or contact me using the email at the top of our site, so we can get that first meeting on the textbooks ASAP. (See what I did there?)

3. Transcript Access

One of the first items we’ll go over is a tax transcript. This document possesses most of the line items necessary to complete the FAFSA. It will also serve as an alternative to your original tax return.

This document will offer adjustments the IRS made AFTER you filed your return, and are therefore updated and accurate. To receive your tax transcript, you can get it online at Get Transcript, or pick up the phone and dial (800) 908-9946 to order one by mail.

Although there are some tedious tasks involved in completing the FAFSA, remember you’re taking one more step in chipping away at that unfortunately-high tuition cost ahead of you.

A little work will go a long way when it comes to paying for student education. And if those students don’t appreciate all the hard tax work now, one day they (hopefully) will. Please reach out if you have any more questions, and best of luck to all of the college-bound kids you know!

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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How To File An Appeal With The IRS by Olive Branch Tax Relief http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/how-to-file-an-appeal-with-the-irs-by-olive-branch-tax-relief/ Sat, 06 Jul 2019 05:00:12 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/how-to-file-an-appeal-with-the-irs-by-olive-branch-tax-relief/ Flipping through mail shouldn’t deliver anxiety — only coupons and Amazon packages. But when you come across an envelope from the IRS, a little panic is perfectly understandable. No matter the contents of that envelope, know you have a right, as a citizen of the United States, to challenge any IRS claim you deem inaccurate. […]

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Flipping through mail shouldn’t deliver anxiety — only coupons and Amazon packages.

But when you come across an envelope from the IRS, a little panic is perfectly understandable.

No matter the contents of that envelope, know you have a right, as a citizen of the United States, to challenge any IRS claim you deem inaccurate. This is where filing an appeal comes into play. And if you’ve never filed an appeal, I want to highlight a few practical steps to take.

Before I address those points, please know I’m here to walk you through the process in person — especially if you received one of those unexpected letters in the last few weeks! Together, we can sit down and discuss, step-by-step, your plan to appeal a decision with IRS.

Use this: (864) 319-3119

Now, here are a few key steps to follow to help you file an appeal with the IRS…

How To File An Appeal With The IRS by Olive Branch Tax Relief

Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” -Norman Vincent Peale

If you are thinking about filing an appeal, IRS Publication 5 is an essential document to aid you in the process.

One of the first steps, as outlined in the doc, is to set up a meeting or teleconference with the supervisor who issued your case. Then if you’re not pleased with the outcome of that conversation, the next step is appealing your case to the Appeals Office of the IRS.

Like your initial conversation, talking with the Appeals Office can happen over the phone or face-to-face. But it is a good idea, though not required, to have some representation with you — this is not an ideal scenario to walk through alone.

Prepare and Provide

The worst thing you could do, in entering into one of the aforementioned conversations with IRS representatives, is come ill-prepared.

Publication 5 will give you foundational knowledge for the process, but only YOU can write the required appeal letter — an important document to have on hand through the appeal. In the letter, there are a few key items to include:

?       Name, address, and telephone number

?       Statement declaring your decision to appeal the IRS report you received

?       Copy of the report you received and details of why you disagree

?       Tax years and periods involved in your case

?       The facts (re: evidence) that will support your case

?       The underlying law backing your appeal

You will need to sign and acknowledge the penalties of perjury: “Under the penalties of perjury, I declare that I examined the facts stated in this protest, including any accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete.”

Call on a Pro

Alright, alright … I know I already stated my case. But seeking professional help is really your best bet when filing an appeal.

Why?

Because if you wish to not conduct the appeals conversation with a supervisor or even the Appeals Office, a lawyer or professional representative can do it for you.

Form 2848 will help you file proper power of attorney and authorization paperwork.

So if you’re up for the challenge, filing an appeal can totally be on you. There is enough info on the interweb, or in Publication 5 alone, to go it alone. But when entering into battle (and a battle it will be), “alone” is often not the spot you want to be.

Please reach out if you find an IRS surprise in your mailbox, and know that you have someone to link arms with — someone who lives and breathes the (very) confusing tax law of the land.

That’s my promise to you, and together we can make your voice heard.

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Four Ways the IRS Reform Bill Helps South Carolina Taxpayers Like You (and Me) http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/four-ways-the-irs-reform-bill-helps-south-carolina-taxpayers-like-you-and-me/ Wed, 03 Jul 2019 11:00:09 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/four-ways-the-irs-reform-bill-helps-south-carolina-taxpayers-like-you-and-me/ Believe it or not, 2019 is almost halfway over (!). We’re through the summer solstice, the days get shorter from here on out, and here at Team Olive Branch Tax Relief we begin to turn our eyes more directly at 2020. We’re pretty thrilled by the opportunity, because it means we get that much more […]

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Believe it or not, 2019 is almost halfway over (!). We’re through the summer solstice, the days get shorter from here on out, and here at Team Olive Branch Tax Relief we begin to turn our eyes more directly at 2020.

We’re pretty thrilled by the opportunity, because it means we get that much more time to take advantage of all the juicy tax-saving opportunities on behalf of our clients.

But those really are only available to those who communicate and meet with us … so don’t let this year pass without doing so: (864) 319-3119 (or shoot me back an email using the email button at the top of our site).

Moving on … there is an IRS reform bill (The TaxPayer First Act) that passed through Congress in the last couple of weeks that marks some encouraging progress towards the ability of the IRS to be more responsive to regular taxpayers (like you and me). There has been a small amount of controversy about it, so I thought I’d pipe in with some thoughts about why this might be a GOOD thing for you and me.

Four Ways the IRS Reform Bill Helps South Carolina Taxpayers Like You (and Me)

“Sometimes the only answer people are looking for when they ask for help is that they won’t have to face the problem alone.” -Mark Amend

On June 13th, the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) passed through the Senate. As of this writing, it still awaits the President’s signature, but it looks as if it will be signed and confirmed.

If this doesn’t seem like much of a big deal, here’s a brief but powerful fact:

The TFA is the first significant piece of legislation addressing the workings of the IRS since the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act signed in 1998.

Twenty years later and it’s time for a change.

But if you’re in the dark as to what changes are heading your way, allow me to provide four ways this bill can help you in the months and years to come.

Customer Service

When thinking about the IRS, the term “customer service” isn’t exactly what first comes to mind (at least, not in a good way).

But one goal of the TFA is to tip the customer service scale in a more favorable direction. At the top of that list? The IRS is now required to devise a “customer service strategy” which they can then instill in each employee.

Simply put, more focused training in this area for IRS employees will only benefit South Carolina taxpayers like you should any interaction arise. This component of the law will be a great way to take an unfortunate stigma and turn it around for taxpayers for years down the line.

Independent Appeals

In the event you have to appeal an IRS decision, the TFA changes will also benefit your case. There is a newly-appointed independent appeals office that would be available, which would allow for greater access for taxpayers to view the case against them.

This adds a new level of transparency and communication to the whole tax dispute resolution process.

Change for the Private Collection Agency (PCA)

In 2017, PCAs were formed to collect unpaid tax bills. Under the TFA, PCAs can no longer specifically target low-income taxpayers who are behind on their tax bills. In other words, PCAs can no longer pressure them into payments they can’t afford.

Specifically, PCAs will not be able to collect from any taxpayer with a gross income of 200 percent below the poverty level.

Theft Prevention

The TFA follows suit with a nationwide, technological pursuit of greater identity protection.

Under the new provision, taxpayers who have had their identity stolen can request an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN). The IP PIN is a preventative measure to stop criminals from accessing items like taxpayer Social Security Numbers.

In turn, the IRS will assign a worker to the individuals with IP PINs so that their case can be filed unto completion.

These are just a few improvements that South Carolina taxpayers like you can expect to see under the TFA.

But if you have any question moving forward, please let me know. I would love to sit down and discuss other ways the TFA might affect your filing. For now, take heart in these promising changes, and know there are people trying to make filing easier for you.

I would love to help do the same.

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Tax-Smart Ways to Run a Savvy South Carolina Side Hustle http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/tax-smart-ways-to-run-a-savvy-south-carolina-side-hustle/ Tue, 18 Jun 2019 13:30:59 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/tax-smart-ways-to-run-a-savvy-south-carolina-side-hustle/ I’m so old, I still remember the days when “hashtags” were only about a particular button on your phone. Yep, the world has shifted massively underfoot. You know it; we all know it. And one of the developments we’ve all seen is the proliferation of news feed gurus, ready and willing to help you start […]

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I’m so old, I still remember the days when “hashtags” were only about a particular button on your phone.

Yep, the world has shifted massively underfoot. You know it; we all know it.

And one of the developments we’ve all seen is the proliferation of news feed gurus, ready and willing to help you start your new business — for the low, low price of three payments of $5,997.

What once was a sanctuary of grandkid photos and food pictures, has now become another marketplace for more barkers to shout their wares at you.

But it’s all for good reason … because lest I come across as TOO much of a cynic, the proliferation of onramps for (truly) ANYONE to start a business is a net positive for our culture, in my opinion.

There are so many great tax reasons to have a real business, even if it’s just a “side hustle” like the kids say.

And today I want to clear some of the fog around this topic, especially for your wallet — and your taxes.

Tax-Smart Ways to Run a Savvy South Carolina Side Hustle

“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don’t give up.” -Robert Tew

Despite having full-time employment, many Americans need some sort of work on the side to supplement month-to-month living expenses. In fact, a recent MarketWatch survey says one-third (!) of Americans depend on a side hustle.

Do you fall into that category? If so, I’m here to help you figure out the (multiple) tax ramifications for self-employment. Whether it’s you or someone you know, I love to come alongside any endeavor that helps pay the bills. There’s no reason that tax questions should hinder all that hustling.

Here are a few tax tips, whether you’re in the middle of a South Carolina side hustle or thinking about starting one, that will help keep your taxes in order.

Research and Report

There are a few basic differences between W2 and 1099 employees. And if you’re doing some freelance work for another South Carolina business, they’re not required by the IRS to send you a 1099 unless they’ve paid you $600 or more. HOWEVER, even if you earned less than that, with no documentation required, your money is still taxable income.

I can’t overstate this enough: if you are earning money on the side, you are still responsible for keeping track of and reporting all earnings.

By Tax Day, you’ll need to report all earnings, with or without a 1099, to the IRS.

Many freelancers end up filing Schedule C as sole proprietors. You and I can tackle this document together, but it’s imperative your numbers are accurate for filling out each box.

Pay Up

A side hustle is just that: a hustle.

But these gigs aren’t as simple as a childhood lemonade stand. That ice-cold cash is (sadly) not all yours. Unfortunately, this is taxable income we’re talking about and it’s vital to pay those estimated taxes…

…four times a year (April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15). That’s right, things like self-employment taxes are required from all the strenuous (but fun!) work you complete throughout the year.

But don’t get discouraged! This is another part of the hustle, yet it has to be accurate for continued success. Just one more reason I’m in your corner all year round.

Stay Healthy. Stay Hungry.

The IRS also wants to help the self-employed in regard to health insurance and retirement benefits. Those contributions can be deducted, but are filed on your personal tax return as an adjustment to personal income.

Now, I can help you with any of the aforementioned items. I know the tax side of self-employment can seem like a lot, but there are many benefits of self-employment if you can make it through tasks like filing your taxes.

Please reach out so we can get our first meeting on the books. No one should have to hustle alone, for it can quickly lead to burnout.

You need a team around you, and I’d love to join.

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Key Tips For South Carolina Newlyweds On Marriage and Taxes http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/key-tips-for-south-carolina-newlyweds-on-marriage-and-taxes/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 13:31:06 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/key-tips-for-south-carolina-newlyweds-on-marriage-and-taxes/ Do you know what the number one month is for weddings? Check today’s date and there it is: June. With that fact in mind, I’m not sure where you currently fall on the wedding spectrum… Are many of your friends getting married? Are your friends’ kids getting married? And if you or someone close to […]

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Do you know what the number one month is for weddings? Check today’s date and there it is: June.

With that fact in mind, I’m not sure where you currently fall on the wedding spectrum…

Are many of your friends getting married? Are your friends’ kids getting married? And if you or someone close to you is getting married soon, congratulations! Weddings are a huge deal (for obvious reasons) and, as a bonus, can often act as mini “family reunions” to gather with loved ones.

But, once the dust has settled…

And the honeymoon is over and the boxes are unpacked and the thank you’s have all been written, there are some tax implications for the newlyweds in your life. Marriage and taxes may not be the most exciting topic, but messing up your taxes is not fun either.So whether the following tips are useful for you personally, or something you can forward to others, there’s no reason these tax changes should damper anyone’s newlywed bliss.

Key Tips For South Carolina Newlyweds On Marriage and Taxes

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” -Mignon McLaughlin

Perhaps the most obvious change after the big day is a new surname for one or both parties. If that’s the case, then it’s imperative the person changing their last name reports it to the Social Security Administration.

This is key because, during filing season, the IRS will look to the SSA for your personal data, and if the new surname is not accounted for, your tax refund will be delayed.

A change in marital status will also directly affect your filing status with your South Carolina employer. Make sure you connect with HR at work to adjust your workplace withholding. Failing to do so may result in inaccurate payments from each paycheck, which may mean an unexpected tax bill come filing time.

New Home. New Status.

Upon marriage, there is usually at least one party who has a change of address. In addition to notifying the post office of the change, it’s important the IRS knows the address change occurred as well. The reason being, so that they can mail any important documents to the right address moving forward.

As married couples think about the tax year ahead, it’s their marital status on December 31st which will determine how they file — jointly or separately.

This is where I step in to help many newlyweds determine which is the right filing status for them. Figuring out marital tax implications is tricky enough as it is, so I don’t recommend doing it all alone.

Health Benefits

Reassessing healthcare options is another key change that accompanies newlywed tax status. The move requires a proactive attitude, as it’s not necessarily fun stuff to change. But it will make a difference when one least expects it.

Although I’m no marriage expert, I know marriage usually comes with plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

If you’re insured through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you might qualify for the premium tax credit. And if that’s the case, a change in marital status will affect the credit you receive.

Again, reconfiguring healthcare, and the tax implications as a result, is one more (tricky) area I’d love to help you or someone you know navigate in the future.

With all that being said … marriage is a joyous occasion (with many logistics to follow). Many couples out there don’t see the tax ramifications as a fun new change, but there are some, like me, who love to explore how to maximize its benefits.

Even though June is great for weddings, we all know April is when things really heat up.

Let’s start planning for that dance ASAP.

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Olive Branch Tax Relief Sheds Light on Some of the Highest State Sales Tax Rates http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/olive-branch-tax-relief-sheds-light-on-some-of-the-highest-state-sales-tax-rates/ Tue, 11 Jun 2019 08:00:12 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/olive-branch-tax-relief-sheds-light-on-some-of-the-highest-state-sales-tax-rates/ No, the IRS is not shutting down their operations — there is still (and probably ever will be) a federal income tax. But states are a different story… This being travel season, and the season during which some of our clients turn their eyes towards making a move, I thought I’d give you some info […]

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No, the IRS is not shutting down their operations — there is still (and probably ever will be) a federal income tax.

But states are a different story…

This being travel season, and the season during which some of our clients turn their eyes towards making a move, I thought I’d give you some info on how state and local South Carolina taxes might affect your decisions.

Oh, but back to federal taxes (and state) — consider this your quick reminder that estimated taxes for the second quarter are due June 15th.

This one always feels as if it came a little quick (two months since last payment instead of the normal three), so if this applies to you, you’ll want to make sure you have that all set up in time.

Secondly (and relatedly), I think I’m still in denial that we’re already into June. Our busiest season is behind us, and I always seem to expect that everything will slow down in a massive way afterwards … but this year has seen so much energy and growth around our practice that I still find myself in the midst of some very full days.

This, of course, is a very good thing. We are so grateful to be able to play such a meaningful role in the lives of our clients in South Carolina and beyond. We continue to work with some clients who are on extension and we’re helping clients who are (wisely) already making changes to their financial lives in order to proactively save on taxes. It’s all fun, because we really do love what we do around here.

So, speaking of proactive planning, if you’re considering travel or a move, keep this stuff in mind…

Olive Branch Tax Relief Sheds Light on Some of the Highest State Sales Tax Rates

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” -Vince Lombardi

WARNING: What I’m about to share might make you salty.

The topic is state and local taxes (SALT … ba dum, ching), and if there’s any condolence … it’s that nobody is exempt from paying their part.

But where exactly do your SALT dollars go?

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), answering that question got a little trickier this year. In short, SALT includes income taxes from taxing jurisdictions as well as real estate and personal property taxes. Where the TCJA altered things was its limiting of the amount which is potentially deductible from federal tax returns.

Let’s take a look at some more SALT ramifications. (Other than high blood pressure, that is. 🙂 Okay, I’ll quit the salt puns now. Maybe.)

Higher Price to Purchase

Paying sales tax has become so woven into our economic fabric that we hardly recognize it on a day-to-day basis.

But states depend heavily on sales tax to make it through the year (see list below of which states truly rely on sales tax). The revenue generated plays a foundational role in the maintenance of cities, counties, schools and other initiatives within our state.

Do you like the state you live in? I hope so. Most every purchase you make goes toward its cause(s).

The Few and the Proud

HOWEVER, if you live in one of the five states that doesn’t apply a statewide sales tax — Alaska, New Hampshire, Montana, Delaware, Oregon — there are some other laws that apply to you.

In Montana, tourist-heavy populations can add up to 3% in state sales tax on their goods sold. Delaware (yes Delaware) is often called a “tax shelter” because of its individual tax laws, but businesses do pay more via gross receipts tax. New Hampshire will add a 9% state sales tax to hotel rooms, rental cars and restaurant meals, but is otherwise (mostly) sales tax-free so that you can “Live Free or Die”. Neither Alaska nor Oregon collect state sales tax either, but all is subject to change through the vote.

Top Ten Taxed for Sales

The list below is the percentage, in state revenue, comprised of total sales tax collections by state. Although Washington doesn’t collect corporate or individual income tax, they lead this sales tax charge with 46.4% of state revenue coming from sales tax.

Also, note the more “touristy” locations — Vegas, Mardi Gras, Nashville, Maui — embedded into this list. Going on vacation to any of these locations soon? Be on the lookout for extra pennies (and dollars) to pay.

  1. Washington 46.4 percent
  2. Tennessee 41.5 percent
  3. Louisiana 41 percent
  4. South Dakota 39.6 percent
  5. Nevada 39.4 percent
  6. Arizona 38.7 percent
  7. New Mexico 37.8 percent
  8. Arkansas 37.5 percent
  9. Hawaii 37.2 percent
  10. Texas 35.4 percent

It’s a Catch 22, right? Do you want to pay extra for a better place to live, or pay less for the things only you need?

And if you’d like to schedule a meeting for us in Hawaii, go ahead and buy us some plane tickets. I’d be quite happy to cover the sales tax. 🙂

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Dean Zongrone’s Keys For Negotiating With The IRS http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/dean-zongrones-keys-for-negotiating-with-the-irs/ Tue, 04 Jun 2019 13:46:12 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/dean-zongrones-keys-for-negotiating-with-the-irs/ The dog days of summer are here, and things are definitely heating up. 🙂 In particular, our phone lines. Now that the dust has settled since the main personal deadline, IRS notices have been trickling out, and we’ve had an uptick in people who need assistance digging out from a pile of old tax debt, […]

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The dog days of summer are here, and things are definitely heating up. 🙂

In particular, our phone lines.

Now that the dust has settled since the main personal deadline, IRS notices have been trickling out, and we’ve had an uptick in people who need assistance digging out from a pile of old tax debt, or responding to audit notices.

Audit notices can be scary, and sometimes taxpayers will pick up the phone and get involved with negotiating with the IRS on their own behalf in relation to their audit.

I don’t recommend this.

But if you do happen to get in a conversation with our tax authorities, here are some things to keep in mind.

Dean Zongrone’s Keys For Negotiating With The IRS

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” -Andrew Carnegie

One of the first things that you read if you research about the IRS audit process is that IRS auditors cannot negotiate. But that’s actually not quite true. The fact of the matter is that an IRS Auditor’s job performance is based largely on how many cases they have closed, i.e. marked as “agreed”.

Auditors face downward pressure from their management that you would consent to their findings and not appeal or go to Tax Court. And while that might translate into you feeling pressured, the fact is that this actually gives you negotiating power. The auditor might even be inclined to overlook certain things in order to get your consent.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The IRS doesn’t operate like normal private sector entities.

IRS decisions are not always made from common sense, or logic. Your way of thinking about a solution to a problem — things that might work in the course of your business or personal life — do not necessarily apply to solving IRS problems.

That’s because decisions made by IRS agents are primarily governed by their own specific, internal rules and regulations. This guidebook is called the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM). The IRM contains chapter after chapter, page after page, of IRS procedures on handling most every conceivable situation – from audits to collections, levies and seizures, to tax court litigation.

So with a unique set of rules, significant power over their constituents, employees with no financial risk in the outcome, the IRS can be a frightening “opponent”. That’s why knowing (and applying) THEIR rules of engagement, understanding their mindset and recognizing how to work within the IRS’s power structure is key to success.  

Do not be a passive participant.

When dealing with an audit situation, a good strategy is to ask the auditor about disallowances she is considering as the audit progresses. Otherwise, they won’t tell you what’s on their mind until you get the examination report.

We have found that it is best not to let an auditor take the easy way out – to make her face and justify her actions. In this way, you can advocate for yourself DURING the process, rather than after the fact. For example, if he or she plans to make an adjustment because you didn’t produce records, you can ask for time to find or reconstruct the documents. 

Here’s what I mean:

A. The IRS Auditor tells Brian, a marketing consultant, that he is disallowing the deductions for the theft of his computer because there is no documentation for the loss. Instead of passively accepting this, Brian should instead get a police report for the Auditor.

B. The Auditor isn’t convinced that it was necessary for Tim to buy a $50,000 airplane for his construction business. Tim could get a letter from Cox, the general contractor who hired him, saying he hired Tim to work on a project in a remote area inaccessible by car.

It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between arguing and negotiating.

Negotiation is the art of meeting in the middle. For example, say you lost all your paperwork for a $600 office supply deduction. The auditor proposes to disallow 100% of the deduction. You can still negotiate here by saying something like: “Since I made a profit and maintained an office, I must have bought office supplies. I lost my receipts, but my reconstruction of expenses is reasonable. I should be allowed at least 50%.”

You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t at least try.

Even better, of course, is if you have someone in your corner who is experienced in these sorts of negotiations.

I wonder who that might be? 🙂

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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New Ideas For South Carolina Students To Pay For College http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/new-ideas-for-south-carolina-students-to-pay-for-college/ Mon, 03 Jun 2019 13:30:22 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/new-ideas-for-south-carolina-students-to-pay-for-college/ I recently wrote about the cost of raising children, but there was one glaring omission: college. But imagine if you had sent your son to Morehouse College. Here’s what happened there this month… On Sunday, May 19th, investor and philanthropist, Robert F. Smith, shocked 400 graduating students from all-male Morehouse College when, in his commencement […]

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I recently wrote about the cost of raising children, but there was one glaring omission: college.

But imagine if you had sent your son to Morehouse College. Here’s what happened there this month…

On Sunday, May 19th, investor and philanthropist, Robert F. Smith, shocked 400 graduating students from all-male Morehouse College when, in his commencement speech, he announced he would cover the costs of all of the student debt each graduating student had accrued. How much, you ask? Just a cool $40 (or so) million.

All in a day’s work for Smith, who went on to encourage the graduates: “You great Morehouse men are bound only by the limits of your own conviction and creativity.”

Now, without student loans hanging over their heads, many of the graduates have started dreaming about how they can creatively bless others moving forward.

What have we learned here? The next time you graduate, and see Robert F. Smith walking up to the podium to deliver a speech … get excited.

But what if you don’t have a Robert F. Smith in your life? There are some new programs emerging that you may be interested in hearing about…

New Ideas For South Carolina Students To Pay For College

“Sometimes it takes more courage to ask for help than to act alone.” -Ken Petti

Smith’s gift comes at an interesting time in higher education. Although a four-year education is rightly seen as an investment for life, it also carries a price tag that increases year-over-year.

In fact, the average cost of a four-year university has risen 30% over the past 10 years.

But there are new models emerging for paying for college. As highlighted in a recent Freakonomics podcast episode, Purdue University (among others) is exploring “Income Share Agreements” (ISA’s) for newly-enrolled students, in lieu of traditional tuition agreements.

In these new agreements, students pay back the funding they received by percentage according to their income for the first ten years after graduation. “The less they make, the less they are required to pay.”

Similar programs allow students to pay nothing upfront for their education in exchange for repayment in the form of a percentage of their income for a set number of years after graduation. There is a minimum annual income graduates must attain in order to qualify.

And services like Scholly help students find scholarships so that they can make it into a university of their choice.

Regardless of how education is covered financially, it’s important to still encourage today’s South Carolina youth toward betterment through education.

So let’s get behind the South Carolina students in our world, whether or not they happen to be our offspring. Gifts like Robert F. Smith’s are incredibly rare, and astonishingly generous. Although students should never bank on that kind of lightning bolt, it’s immeasurably valuable when they can receive encouragement from older generations on a regular basis.

After all, they will have a big say in how things run eventually.

So how will you channel your inner “Robert F. Smith” today? It may not be coughing up $40 million, but if you’re serious about helping people, we’d love to help you come up with the most tax-advantageous way to do so. You can reach us right here: (864) 319-3119

It may not be a commencement-level surprise, but your encouragement goes farther than you think.

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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Making Children Less Costly For South Carolina Families With Kids Through The Child Tax Credit http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/making-children-less-costly-for-south-carolina-families-with-kids-through-the-child-tax-credit/ Wed, 29 May 2019 10:00:10 +0000 http://treasurecoasttaxhelp.com/making-children-less-costly-for-south-carolina-families-with-kids-through-the-child-tax-credit/ To be clear, children are costly in the best way possible. Once the dust settles from changing diapers, sweeping floors, slapping bandaids on booboos, driving to sports practice, attending back-to-school meetings, saving for college, and buying countless goldfish crackers … you realize children are a lot of work. They’re also monetarily costly. Depending on your […]

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To be clear, children are costly in the best way possible.

Once the dust settles from changing diapers, sweeping floors, slapping bandaids on booboos, driving to sports practice, attending back-to-school meetings, saving for college, and buying countless goldfish crackers … you realize children are a lot of work.

They’re also monetarily costly. Depending on your income, you could be spending over $300K on each child, not including college.

But they’re worth it.

How are they worth it? Because they are your children, and in many ways they are the closest expression of eternal legacy that we can find on this side of our mortal coil.

Now, without a doubt, it takes money to raise a child. Amidst the aforementioned tasks, there’s gas money, sign-up fees, insurance premiums, and maybe most of all: grocery costs.

But there are a few crucial tax breaks I hope you’re aware of — a couple of these might serve as a refresher, and a couple might be new to you.

Regardless, the government apparently wants to help you chip away at child costs (at least for now). But first you need to know which tax levers to pull.

Making Children Less Costly For South Carolina Families With Kids Through The Child Tax Credit

“Having a child is like getting a tattoo … on your face. You better be committed.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

Because raising children truly does “take a village”, know that I’d love to help walk you through some of these steps in greater detail. Everybody’s childcare costs look different, and together we can plan for child-based tax breaks. Don’t hesitate to give me a call today. (864) 319-3119

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

Over the last few months, we’ve spent some time discussing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), and although some of its outcomes have altered South Carolina taxpayers’ refunds in a negative way, there are indeed some perks. In this case, the signed law meant a CTC increase from $1,000 to $2,000.

Not bad, huh?

Just a few rules apply for the parent’s eligibility:

  1. Child less than 17 years old at the end of the tax year.
  2. You, as the taxpayer, claim the child as a dependent.
  3. Child lives with you, as the taxpayer, for at least six months of the year.

In addition, the dependent’s family must earn at least $2,500 a year.

The CTC is something you should definitely take advantage of if you have children.

Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC)

Do you, or someone you know, pay for childcare? This is arguably the largest amount of money South Carolina parents will spend on their children (once education is said and done).

The CDCC is crucial in giving you a break from childcare costs. In fact, the break will cover up to $3,000 in childcare costs for one child; $6,000 for two or more children.

Such a tax break might be crucial if you’re a single parent. In that case, filing as Head of Household (HoH) is imperative. This law applies to parents who are not married while raising children on their own.

The HoH offers a larger standard deduction than a single filing status. You would also receive more favorable tax brackets and applicable tax rates. If, during the tax year, you pay more than half the costs of keeping a home for yourself and a dependent, you will qualify as HoH.

Adoption Help

If you’ve adopted a child, or know someone who has, it’s important to note there are specific tax breaks you can claim.

In 2019, it’s possible to claim a tax credit up to $14,080 in an effort to cover adoption costs (which, if you don’t know, get expensive quick). Side note: Employers can offer a similar tax break if one of their employees chooses to adopt.

Having children, biologically or through adoption, is one of the greatest gifts a human will experience. But, like we stated before, it’s important to lean on others for help. In this case, it just so happens to be the government.

According to a 2016 report from the United States Department of Agriculture, raising a child, from birth to age 18, averages out to around $233,610. That’s around $14,000 a year … sheesh.

If you need some help purchasing all those goldfish crackers, you might need to pick up a side hustle. But as far as your taxes go? It’s vital to have a proven strategy.

Call me today and let’s get one in place. Right after you go clean that stain up off the couch. 🙂

Warmly,

 

Dean Zongrone

(864) 319-3119

Olive Branch Tax Relief

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