As you may know, Emily and I welcomed our first born son, Samuel into the world on June 10th at 6:53p. It was by far, the most exciting day of my life. But along with the excitement came the reminder of a whole new financial challenges and decisions for any growing family. Outlined below are four key financial considerations to help new parents prepare for many of life's unknowns.
Prepare for the Unexpected: Check your individual health insurance policy for specific guidelines on adding coverage for your newborn (most plans give parents 30 days after the birth of the child). Missing this deadline may require waiting until the next annual enrollment period to add your baby to your plan.
Life insurance is an important aspect of your financial plan and something that you may now want to consider. You may also want to consider purchasing umbrella liability insurance (particularly if hiring an in-home caretaker for the baby), to provide additional protection in case an accident occurs on your property or if you are sued. On the other hand, skip insurance that you don't need: Unless you depend on your children for financial help, insuring young children is usually unnecessary.
Kick-Start Your College Savings Plan: The most compelling college-savings vehicles offer attractive tax advantages. State-sponsored 529 plans have built-in tax incentives, and the age-based all-in-one 529 options allow you to invest money in a portfolio that gradually becomes more conservative as your child nears college age. If the baby's grandparents or favorite aunts and uncles would like to save on your child's behalf, they too can make state tax-deductible contributions into a 529 plan.
But, 529 accounts aren't for every family. They do come with some strings attached. The funds invested within a 529 plan must be used for qualified education expenses at accredited institutions. If you take unqualified distributions from a 529 account, you'll owe tax and penalty on the earnings. Before you make a decision on the best funding option for your family, give us a call.
Don't Forget Basic Estate Planning: Another key step is to designate a legal guardian for your child; a person who understands and is comfortable with the implications and responsibilities involved. You should also consider drafting a will and living will.
Many assets can be transferred to a beneficiary at death, but be aware that assigning minors as beneficiaries presents several potential pitfalls. For example, minors cannot legally own any assets. So if you want to name a child under 18 as your beneficiary, he would need a court-appointed guardian, which can be a costly process. Instead of naming your children as direct beneficiaries, consider creating a trust fund (after death a trust doesn’t go through the probate process like a will does). A special IRA trust may be best for retirement accounts.
Take Advantage of Tax Benefits: Start by applying for your child's Social Security number right away for tax purposes. All parents are eligible to claim each child under 19 as a dependent on their tax returns, which reduces taxable income by what is called the dependent exemption ($4,050 in 2017). This exemption also applies if your child is a full-time student under the age of 24. Another potential tax break for parents is the $1,000 annual child tax credit, which applies to children under 17, provided your income falls below certain thresholds. If you're paying for child care, your workplace might also provide ways for you to save on taxes. Through flexible spending accounts (FSA), parents can put away up to $2,600 each in pre-tax dollars for child care (if their child is under the age of 13) through an employer-sponsored program. Parents may also qualify for the child-care tax credit as long as both spouses are working and the child is under 13. Unfortunately, you can't double up on the FSA and the tax credit.
529 plans are tax-deferred college savings vehicles. Any unqualified distribution of earnings will be subject to ordinary income tax and subject to a 10% federal penalty tax. Tax law is ever-changing and can be quite complex. It is highly recommended that you consult with a legal, tax, or financial professional with any questions or concerns. An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses associated with municipal fund securities before investing. More information about municipal fund securities is available in the issuer's official statement, and the official statement should be read carefully before investing.
Connecting with our Community through Days of Service
Participating in serving our community is mutually beneficial - while working collaboratively to enrich our community, we build new relationships together and gain satisfaction through helping others. As we desire to become reliable, generous, and engaged members of our community through acts of services, Eaton-Cambridge is introducing "H6:10 Days" and we invite you, our Eaton-Cambridge family, to join us throughout the year in volunteering. We hope to promote an appreciation and a dedication to serving the Valley of the Sun together.
Connecting with the Local Community
H6:10 Days are opportunities for us to build gratifying moments together, explore different organizations that are already serving the community, and contribute in ways we may have never imagined.
Find a Service Opportunity Now
Be on the lookout for the May Newsletter where we will announce the very first H6:10 Days volunteer event.
Already connected with an organization or have ideas? We’d love to come alongside you in your service passions as well, so please feel free to submit your volunteer ideas to email@example.com
Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
First, we are excited to announce that Damian Goodhand has been promoted to Director of Operations and Client Services. As you may remember, Damian joined us last year as client services manager. Over the past number of months, his work ethic and demand for perfection has provided our clients with a whole new level of service . Damian's added responsibilities of overseeing many of the day to day operations of the firm mean that Bob and I can continue to spend more time working with you and your family to build a bright and confident financial future.
Because of our continual growth over the past year, we also found it important hire a Client Relations Manager to ensure you have a Michelin Star level service experience every time you interact with our office. In January we welcomed Alyxis Trujillo to the Eaton-Cambridge team. Alyxis's warm personality, attention to detail and project coordination experience make her a perfect fit for this new role. In time you'll get to know Alyxis well, whether here in office or via a phone call. I promise you'll enjoy meeting her.
We thank you for taking the time to welcome Alyxis to the team and congratulating Damian on his promotion. As always, thank you for your trust in us and we look forward to serving you and your family with continued excellence.
We are excited to announce our CPA firm’s new name, EatonCambridgeCPA. Formerly, the CPA firm operated under the name Robert Korljan LTD; however, we believe the name change allows us to communicate a unique service offering that the CPA firm and Eaton-Cambridge Inc, a Registered Investment Advisory firm, have already provided clients for many years.
While EatonCambridgeCPA and Eaton-Cambridge Inc are separate entities, both firms are able to work together to provide a unique service offering. As a CPA firm, it is our duty to assist you in remaining compliant in your business and personal tax situations. We also know how important it is to you that you don’t overpay your taxes. Compliance and tax savings are what we are good at, and those aspects will not change. What we realize, though, is that your taxes and investments, whether it be your business or portfolio, are closely integrated.
Your investments held in your brokerage and bank accounts, IRA, ROTH IRA, 401(k), SEP, 403(b), and trusts all have different tax implications. How you contribute, grow, withdraw and pass on these investments to your beneficiaries all are guided by tax rules. Furthermore, you also need to set up a plan for these investments around your future pensions and social security benefits. Mistakes made during any of this process can lead you to thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars in taxes. As CPAs, it would be a disservice to our tax clients if we allowed these mistakes to happen.
This is why we work closely with Eaton-Cambridge Inc clients. If you go to other large brokerages or investment advisors, they will provide you with investments or advice but tell you to consult with your tax professional. However, the tax professional and investment advisor may not be communicating properly. Regardless of who is at fault, at some point you are the one left footing the tax bill. EatonCambridgeCPA and Eaton-Cambridge Inc work strategically side by side to avoid costly tax planning mistakes.
We hope that aligning the firm names, now EatonCambridgeCPA and Eaton-Cambridge Inc, communicates to you how important we believe your tax situation is to us.
Change this "Bad" tax habit before you drop off the items at Goodwill.
by Joe Harding, CPA
Every year all around America almost every tax preparer asks the question, “Do you have charitable deductions such as donations to Goodwill?” The answer is often, “Yes: $500 at Goodwill, Salvation Army and others.” That answer, although widely accepted, is not defensible during an IRS audit. This is how you should think and act now around your charitable gifting.
Cash is easy to use, but never use cash! Write a check or use your credit card. Also, used clothing is the biggest offender so below is a link to IRS publication 561; https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Publication-561
The long and the short of it is that the values of the items you bag and drop off are the prices they will put on the items when sold next week. It is NOT a percentage of what you paid! They usually have a guide at any location as to their pricing on items. You can pick that up and put it with your tax records along with the receipt that says, “One Bag of Clothes.”
Before you take your items, spread them out on a table, floor and bed and TAKE A PHOTO with your phone! It won’t take that long to spread those clothes you just took out of the closet on the bed and snap a photo seconds before you shove them all in the bag to go.
After you’ve dropped them off at Goodwill and picked up the sheet, print the photo. Then at tax time it takes a few seconds to figure out the value of your donation. There are 1,2,3,4,5,6 sweaters, 1,2,3,4,5 slacks and 1,2 belts. Sweaters are $24, slacks are $12 and belts are $7 on this sheet from Goodwill; that’s $218 included on your Schedule A. It takes moments to do, but that photo and the list in with your tax documents is 100% defendable during an audit!
If you have other tax questions, call our office for a 30 min review. Call 480-385-7399 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Joe Harding, CPA