Welcome to Keller & Owens’ Blog. It brings you the latest tax and financial news that matter to your bottom line.

Annual Tax and Finance Seminar

Keller & Owens, LLC with the KC Chapter of The Church Network is pleased to present the Annual Tax and Finance Update for Churches and Ministries.

The seminar featuring Richard Hammar, attorney and CPA, will be held on Friday, May 12, 2017 in Overland Park, Kansas.

For more details, watch for the brochure coming by mail.

Know When to Sell

Deciding when to buy a stock is often easier than determining when to sell. As you’re reviewing your portfolio at year-end, consider these situations that may indicate the right time to sell.

When there are no tax consequences. If you hold stock in a retirement fund, you may want to reap gains with no tax impact.

To take money off the table. If a stock has had a nice run, you could sell a portion to recoup part of your investment. You can continue to invest in the stock but with locked-in gains.

A shift in fundamentals. Consider selling if the economy changes or an entire industry becomes vulnerable due to negative news.

When you’ve given up on a stock. If a stock has been declining or flat-lining for an extended period, selling low now can save you from having to sell even lower later on.

To take a contrarian position. If the market has gotten frothy and all the news is optimistic, choosing to harvest your gains could be a wise move.

When cash becomes attractive. A gloomy economic outlook could be reason to increase your cash reserves.

Having a disciplined selling strategy means giving as much thought to the sale of a stock as to the purchase. Contact us. We’re here to help.

Don’t Include the IRS on Your Gift List

Suppose a relative gives you an expensive painting. Several years later, your relative dies and you decide to sell the painting. Your accountant says you’ll owe capital gain tax on the sale, and asks for your basis in order to reduce the amount on which you’ll pay tax. What’s your answer?

When you sell property received as a gift, the general rule is that your basis is the donor’s cost basis. If you sell at a loss, your basis is the lower of the donor’s basis or the fair market value on the date you received the gift. These numbers are adjusted in some cases. But without cost records, you have no way of proving the donor’s basis and no way of saving yourself tax dollars.

If asking for records of the cost when you receive a gift seems inappropriate, explain why you want to know to help make the conversation less awkward. No one likes to pay unnecessary taxes. Having the same conversation about the cost of valuable gifts you received in prior-years is also worthwhile.

If you’re the gift-giver, offer the additional gift of presenting the cost records to the recipient at the same time. Otherwise, you may end up giving an unintended gift to the IRS in the form of unnecessary taxes.

How Social Security Benefits Are Taxed

Are you wondering if your social security retirement, survivor, and disability benefits will be subject to federal income tax on your 2016 return? Generally, when these benefits are taxed is determined by your “provisional income.”

Provisional income (PI) is the product of a formula used for no other purpose than figuring out the taxable percentage of social security benefits. To compute your provisional income, total your adjusted gross income, any tax-exempt interest or similar nontaxable revenue, and one-half of your social security retirement benefits for the year. How much of your benefits are taxed depends on this “base amount.”

– Joint filers with PI below $32,000 ($25,000 for single filers) owe no tax on benefits.

– Joint filers with PI between $32,000 and $44,000 ($25,000 and $34,000 for single filers) are taxed on a sliding scale that tops out at 50% of benefits received.

– Joint filers with PI over $44,000 ($34,000 for single filers) are taxed on more than 50% and up to 85% of benefits.

Note that supplemental security income payments (SSI) are not taxable. For answers to questions about your benefits, contact us.

Clean Your Financial House for the New Year

Out with the old, in with the new. No matter whether you apply the expression to changes in attitude or to life adjustments, the end of the year is a great time to assess your household finances and prepare for new opportunities. Here are suggestions.

Review your credit report. Request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. If the reports contain errors, get them corrected.

Make or update your home inventory. Go through your house and make a video describing what you see, along with information such as purchase dates, prices, and estimated values. Your home inventory can be vital for getting insurance claims approved in case of disaster.

Calculate your net worth. Your net worth is the value of your assets, including your house, personal property, bank accounts, car, and investments, minus liabilities such as your mortgage, credit card balances, and loans. This is a great yardstick for measuring your household’s financial growth (or shrinkage) from year to year.

Increase your savings. If you get a year-end raise, consider contributing a portion of the extra money to your 401(k) plan or other savings account.

Purge financial records. If you’re a financial packrat with stacks of old cancelled checks and bank statements that are no longer needed for an IRS audit or your own use, shred them.

Need help? Contact our office.