If you (or someone in your family) gets married here's some advice that can help avoid headaches at tax time.
Name and address.
If you take a new married name, contact the Social Security Administration to notify it of the change and to obtain a new social security card. If you have a new address after the wedding, notify the IRS so your tax forms, tax refunds, and IRS notices will arrive at the right location. File a change of address on IRS Form 8822.
Send a little time with your tax adviser to evaluate your tax situation as a married couple. Depending on your income levels and deductions, you and your spouse could be hit by the "marriage penalty". This results in higher taxes than the combined taxes you would owe as singles. In some cases you could pay lower taxes as a married couple. It's important to find out as early as possible, while there are still a few months left in the tax year to adjust your withholding if necessary.
As a newly married couple, it is important to update your estate plan. This might be as simple as preparing a basic will. You may want to change the beneficiary designations on insurance policies, IRAs, and 401(k) plans to include your new spouse. You might also decide to change your bank accounts to joint ownership.
Taxes are not the most romantic thing for newlyweds to think about, but look upon it as an essential part of setting up your new household.
Please call if you would like assistance in reviewing your tax situation.
I just heard that Abe Brilloff, age 96, has passed away. Mr. Brilloff was a CPA and an author who was a continuing thorn in the side of the accounting establishment. I have enjoyed his writing and books since I read "Unaccountable Accounting" (1972); the subtitle for this book is "Games Accountants Play". The other book that I've read authored by Mr. Brilloff is "The Truth About Corporate Accounting" (1981). In both books he skewers the accounting profession for continually bending rules to accommodate the wishes of the corporation warlords. By 1981 he had also written "More Debits than Credits". Can you guess what that book was about? Outside his very influential writing, Mr. Brilloff was a CPA and had his own practice and he was a professor of accounting at Baruch College in Manhattan.
We will miss his insight and humor.
Many clients see their CPAs at tax time, when the main focus is on completing and filing their tax return. As a result, they may not take the opportunity to ask questions about long-term tax planning or about other important financial concerns. The good news is that we are available to you all year. We have a full- time, year-round staff of experts with extensive expertise in a broad range of financial areas. We’re ready when you are to take some time reviewing your financial situation, helping you understand your options and make the best decisions. We’re also here in an emergency to help address unexpected financial concerns. So, give us a call to discuss your important financial issues whenever they arise.
Managing the Closing
This blog entry has been moved into a White Paper on how to close your books efficiently and accurately. We've taken two blog posts and an article from our web site and combined them into the one White Paper. You can get your own copy of the White Paper for free by going to this page on our web site -
Did you meet your goals for the year? Are you better off this December 31st than the previous December 31st? If your answers are No, or Maybe, or, how about this: Goals? I didn’t set any goals for the year! Then maybe you need to add a new section to your getting ready for the tax return procedures and add some realistic goals for 2012 to the program.
Here are some ideas for goals for 2012. First on the income side your goals will depend on where your income comes from. If you are an employee at a small business then maybe one goal is to discuss your position with the owner and assess how they feel about your work. Most small businesses should have an annual evaluation process so this discussion may happen as a part of that process, or, if not, you can set your goal to try and initiate the discussion. That’s right, take the initiative and the lead on this. Go into the discussion with some information you have developed such as the number of years you have been at the company; the length of time at your current position; your current rate of pay and for how long you have been there; your current fringe benefits, etc. Also consider your position and if there are any “certifications” or indicators of advancement in the position. Do you have any? Can you get some? How would the business feel about the additional knowledge you can document and possess?
If you own a small business your goals would be different in the specifics but maybe not in the direction. For a small to medium size business there are known metrics that can be applied to your operations and financial condition to gauge how you have done this past year as well as how you have fared over the past four or five years. Is your business operation getting stronger and better? Is the financial condition of the business improving, stabilizing or deteriorating? In short you have a lot of details at your fingertips and you should be using them to manage your business. And now is a great time of the year to sit down quietly and assess your progress.
Jeremiah K. Murphy, CPA is an accounting firm providing tax services, audits and business consulting