Phyllis Jo Kubey EA CFP ATA ATP NTPI Fellow, Author at Think Outside the Tax Box

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Phyllis Jo Kubey EA CFP ATA ATP NTPI Fellow

Phyllis Jo Kubey, EA CFP®, NTPI Fellow, has prepared tax returns and offered tax planning, representation, and consultation services since 1986.

A strong advocate for IRS/practitioner dialogue, she served on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) from 2017-2020 (subgroup chair 2018-2020) and has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on IRS reform.

She serves as President of the New York State Society of Enrolled Agents (NYSSEA) and as a director/officer of Voices of Ascension.

You can find Phyllis talking about taxes on Twitter (@PkubeyEA). She’s been recognized as one of the top must-follow Tax Twitter accounts for 2021 and 2022, and was recently featured in Bloomberg Tax & Accounting’s Spotlight. She’s also been quoted frequently in the tax press.

A woman of diverse interests, Ms. Kubey holds a Master of Music (voice) from Juilliard and is a Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique. She loves long walks and sharing photos of her journeys.

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The Bucket List (Part 2): Living Large in Retirement While Minimizing Your Taxes

In Part 1 of this series, we took a deeper dive into IRMAA planning and minimizing tax on your Social Security benefits. You play a large role in shaping your retirement years in terms of lifestyle and financial health. Think of taking advantage of the many techniques to lower your tax during your retirement years as another aspect of self-care. By treating your financial health and well-being as carefully as you treat your mental and physical well-being, you can ensure that you have resources to attain your financial goals and support yourself in the style for which you’ve planned. In my practice, I see a wide range of client behavior surrounding retirement – from no planning to thoughtful, long-range planning. Looking ahead, whether you’re working with your tax professional and financial team or whether you’re planning on your own, pays off enormously.
Please read on for some additional tips and techniques for tax savings involving charitable giving, Roth IRA conversions, and minimizing capital gains taxes – and two more examples.

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The Bucket List (Part 1): Living Large in Retirement While Minimizing Your Taxes

We’ve all heard the messages to pay yourself first, save a percentage of your income, build your nest egg, and some of us heeded the messages. Whether you’ve saved a lot or a little, we have many ways to reduce taxes in retirement, and by doing so, we maximize the power of our retirement savings.

Accumulating retirement funds is step one. And there are tax-advantaged ways to save for retirement: employer plans (401(k), 403(b), 457), individual retirement accounts (IRAs), self-employed retirement plans (Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE, Solo 401(k)), and non-retirement accounts. While you’re saving, you may have accumulated multiple “buckets” of assets, some in taxable accounts, some tax-deferred, some nontaxable.

Looking ahead toward retirement withdrawals/distributions (the funds you’ll need for essential and discretionary living expenses) adds tremendous value, and tax planning is a big part of the picture. Read on for more specifics and stay tuned for Part 2 with additional tips and examples.

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I Won! Now What? What Is the Tax Price of Success?

Lucky and talented folks win all sorts of prizes and awards. Often, the winnings have nothing to do with the winner’s business or profession, but sometimes there’s a professional or business connection.

You might view your career arcs as a series of applications, interviews, hirings, promotions with one or multiple employers. But some career paths – musicians (both instrumental and vocal), songwriters, and composers come to mind – involve frequent auditions with a healthy dose of competition.

The renown and visibility afforded to competition winners often open doors to career advancement – more and better engagements, management contracts, and media/recording opportunities.

Competition prizes and awards are taxable. But these winnings might also be subject to self-employment tax that can be up to 15.3 percent on the taxable amount. While most professional musicians are in the business of being musicians, very few consider themselves in the business of being competition participants. The distinction is important and allows for tax planning and savings opportunities.

To learn which is better for tax planning, keep reading.

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Avoiding Underpayment of Estimated Tax Penalties – Non-Traditional Strategies for Individuals

Paying your income taxes is a fact of life for most taxpayers. The annual dance of gathering, reconciling, and reporting income/deductions/payments/credits (a.k.a. filing a tax return) keeps taxpayers and tax professionals hopping during each annual filing season and beyond.

If you’re a W-2 employee, your employer takes care of your tax compliance by withholding and remitting federal, state, local, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from your salary. You may also have taxes withheld from pensions, unemployment compensation, gambling winnings, and other income. It may feel as if you’re not paying taxes because all you see is your net pay after taxes. Often it’s a direct deposit, and your payslips may be available only online.

If you’re self-employed or have other income not subject to withholding, you prepay your taxes by making estimated tax payments. The traditional schedule for estimated tax payments is quarterly (4/15, 6/15, 9/15, 1/15). If not followed, steep penalties can exist, even if you pay them all by April 15. But some folks have trouble with the quarterly payment schedule, cash can be tight and that estimated tax payment money you’ve set aside might really come in handy.

Happily, there are strategies to keep in compliance in a way that meets your budget and cash flow needs; and there are ways to avoid those late payment penalties. Want to know how? Keep reading to learn more.

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CURRENT EDITION

Make Tax Magic with a Health Savings Account

Congress created one of the best tax savings vehicles in 2003. It wasn’t the individual retirement account (IRA). It wasn’t the Roth IRA.It was the health savings account (HSA). The HSA is the only tax-preferred savings vehicle in which a taxpayer potentially gets both an upfront tax deduction in addition to tax-free and penalty-free distributions.

The IRS wrote the HSA rules to give taxpayers maximum flexibility in how they use their HSAs for medical expenses. Strategic use of the HSA can lead to lifelong tax savings opportunities.

Let’s review the basic rules as to how an HSA operates, the little-known rules that create tax savings opportunities, and examples of how the HSA can be used to provide tax-free and penalty-free distributions when the taxpayer has a cash need.

Enjoy Decades of Tax-Free Growth With a 529A

If you’re disabled or support someone who is, a 529A plan can be a powerful way to save for the future. Potential earnings grow tax-free, and you won’t have to pay taxes when you withdraw, as long as the withdrawals meet qualifications.

Also known as Qualified ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) programs, these will not only assist you next time you are playing Tax Code Jeopardy but help you create a tax advantaged savings account.

One reason you may not hear much about these tax vehicles is that there really is no way I can discern that advisers can make money on them. But since you and I are members of the same club as tax practitioners, I’m confident you will tell your clients about things that can help regardless of whether there is any profit in it. As my first managing partner the late Herb Cohan used to say, “The world is longer than a day.”

To learn more about future tax-free money, keep reading.

Maximizing Your Home Office Deduction

Question: Can I avoid depreciation recapture by not claiming it before I sell?

Answer: Nice try. You may save yourself unnecessary worry and fear about so-called recapture, but it won’t save you any tax impact when you do sell. If you want to learn the truth about depreciation, keep reading to learn more.

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    Quick Guide to Claiming Work-From-Home COVID-19 Expenses to Reduce Your Tax Bill

    This information is particularly important if you are the owner/shareholder of your own corporation – C or S corp. You can set up payroll and designate tax-free reimbursements for you to be working at home – as well other tax-free money for you and for your employees. (We will discuss employees momentarily. Yes, it’s essential.) If being an employee is your main source of income – watch out! The short answer to employees claiming an office in home deduction this year is... There is no deduction!

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    Five Tax Reduction Strategies for the Casual Cryptocurrency Owner

    With so many people looking for more ways to make money outside their 9 to 5 jobs, many are turning to money making methods using technology including trading in cryptocurrency. For tax purposes, the IRS considers cryptocurrencies property, not as currency. Just like other property types, stocks, investments, or real estate, when you sell, swap, or otherwise dispose of your cryptocurrency for more or less than you acquired it for, you incur a tax reporting obligation. As an example, there would be a $1,000 capital gain if 0.1 bitcoin is bought for $2,000 in June of 2020 and then sold for $3,000 two months later. This profit must be reported on the tax return and a certain amount of tax is due on the gain, depending on the tax bracket of the taxpayer. In this example, the gain would be short term requiring the profit to be taxed at the filer’s ordinary tax rate. These rates range anywhere from 0-37%.

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    You have likely heard that owning rental real estate provides great tax benefits. This is true for a multitude of reasons, but there’s one benefit that is arguably the best of the bunch: The Small Taxpayer Allowance for Deducting Passive Rental Losses. Based on average household income levels, more than three-quarters of taxpayers can potentially qualify for this fantastic tax benefit that offers taxable income reduction of up to $25,000.

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