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Greg's Tax Time Tips

Tax filing season starts this week so here's a few tidbits to help you on your way.

1099 Forms
The 1099 forms (usually written in secret code only accountants can decipher) is what you receive when you have taxable income from dividends, interest, investment sales, or retirement account withdrawals. Many clients' LPL 1099 forms have been mailed already, but sometimes mutual funds report their earnings late, which means your 1099 may arrive in February or even March.

Too cold to walk to the mailbox? View your 1099 documents online by logging into your Account View.

Preliminary 1099 Consolidated Tax Statement: What is it?
Remember those mutual funds who report their earnings late? When companies are still waiting on this reporting, they may send an advanced draft copy of your 1099, called a Preliminary 1099 Form. These can be helpful for tax preparation, but should not be used for filing. Waiting on your official 1099 documents is easier than filing an amended return later.

Standard Deduction or Itemize?
When you file taxes, you have the option to take the standard deduction or itemize deductible expenses. In 2018, they virtually doubled the standard deduction, allowing many taxpayers to avoid counting up all those deductions. The standard deduction for 2020 is $12,400 (single) or $24,800 (married couples).

Having trouble itemizing? Ask your CPA about possible lumping and clumping strategies. It sounds weird, but it might be an effective giving strategy if you're trying to itemize. Even if you don't itemize, a new provision allows you to take an above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions up to $300.

If you're over 70, you probably know Required Minimum Distributions were waived in 2020, allowing retirees to bank their vacation funds for next year. For 2021, RMDs will be required again, but with one change. RMDs now begin the year you turn 72.

Early Retirement Distributions
In addition to the RMD changes above, the SECURE Act waived the 10% penalty on pre-age-59 ½ withdrawals in 2020 (up to $100,000) from retirement accounts for coronavirus-related payouts. If you're under 59 ½ and took a distribution last year, pay close attention to required forms, documentation and rules around these distributions.

Is it Too Late to Contribute?
If you haven't maxed out your IRA or Roth IRA contributions for 2020, you still have time. You can contribute up to the maximum ($6,000 or $7,000 if over 50) before April 15.

Don't let the Scammers Win
Financial scams were rampant in 2020-bogus unemployment claims, threating robo calls, social security number breaches-so frequent that the Kansas DOL created a fraud hotline to handle the reports. Tax filing season will bring more of these so remember, the IRS does not contact you via phone and certainly does not make calls threatening legal action. If the IRS needs information, they will mail you a notice letter. If you receive calls, whether they sound like an angry auditor or a loving grandson, do not give out any information. Call us instead and we can help you investigate the legitimacy. Click here to learn how to know it's really the IRS calling.

Don't Take My Word for It
Every time I think I understand taxes, I do some research and realize I know less than I thought. The tax code is thousands of pages long and not decipherable by the average human. If you have tax complexities, don't take this as tax advice. Seek guidance from a tax professional. Happy Filing!
Disclosure: This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individual tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
Greg Dillard

Greg Dillard

Greg is a co-founder of BridgeQuest. He strives to ensure that clients gain clarity and focus in the financial planning process. Clients appreciate his ability to distill down his in-depth analysis into an understandable game plan.