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Tax Planning Strategies for Physicians in 2010-11

Ten Ways to Lower your Taxes

By Sean G. Todd, Esq., M. Tax, CFP®, CPA

1. Buy a home

You can take advantage of a buyer’s real estate market and buy a home at prices not seen for years. We are seeing prices discounted from 10-30%. First time buyers – doctors and other individuals – who haven’t owned a residence in the last three years – can claim up to the $8,000 tax credit. Current homeowners who’ve lived in their residence for five of the eight years before buying can get up to $6,500. Remember a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability. Taxpayers love tax credits. You must have a contract in place by April 30, 2010, and the deal closed by June 30th to qualify for this outstanding credit.

2. Avoid the Making Work Pay trap 

This is an accounting trick … timing. This tax break was designed to put more money in consumer hands quicker (by under-withholding), but if you work two jobs it may have a tax bite. If you work more than one medical job, check with a tax advisor, or the payroll department at your office to make sure your W-4 is filled out properly at each job.

3. Make a Roth Conversion

The $100,000 income limit has been eliminated in 2010. Now, anyone can now convert a traditional IRA to a Roth retirement account. But, review the numbers.  Everyone’s situation is unique and making the conversion may not be a smart financial decision. But, note that you will have to pay taxes on the previously untaxed amounts in your traditional IRA that you convert. The good news is you can choose to pay half the conversion costs on your 2011 taxes and the other half in 2012.  Beware, making the conversion might push you into the next tax bracket and could cause some deductions to be lost—so you have to run the numbers.

4. Gain tax benefits from improving your home’s energy efficiency

You might be eligible for more tax credits based on your improvements to the principal residence. Making such improvements might just make your home a bit more-cozy. Homeowners can claim up to 30 percent of the first $5,000 spent on qualifying residential energy upgrades, or up to $1,500 in tax credits. A solar home heating system can get you even bigger tax credits.  We are uncertain if these credits will be extended so if you need to make home repairs, consider energy-efficient upgrades now.

5. Buy a hybrid car now…but not just any hybrid

The hybrid credit is set to expire in 2010. The credit remains good only with manufacturers that have not sold 60,000 eligible cars. So shop carefully to make sure the hybrid you are looking at qualifies.  Be sure to get the salesman’s representation that this vehicle qualifies and the manufacturer has sold less than the above amount to qualify.

6. See an Estate Tax Professional

Right now–everyone is trying to figure this area out. Since Congress has really messed this area up by the lack of clarity and with our deficit spending, you can expect that money hungry legislators will want to reclaim more of your money they don’t deserve. Ask a licensed Tax Attorney or CPA to help you arrange your affairs to make sure you and your heirs do not give the IRS more than necessary.

7. You must take your Required Minimum Distributions for your retirement accounts

Many doctors utilize tax-deferred savings plans such as traditional IRAs or workplace 401(k)s or 403(b)s to save for retirement. Now, the IRS is again telling us you have to start taking money out of these accounts via required minimum distributions, or RMDs, once you turn 70 1/2.  You were given a reprieve in 2009 from taking RMDs.

8. Plan for rising income tax rates

By law, the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010. Tax rates go up for higher income earners and the 10 percent rate is eliminated for lower earners. One can only speculate what Congress will do in the light of trillion dollar deficits, but keep an eye out and plan accordingly. Be proactive and not reactive. Do not be afraid to call your Senators and Congressperson and let them know how you feel about tax hikes.

9. Act now to take capital gains at lower rates

George W. Bush’s tax cuts included reductions in capital gains tax rates based on taxpayer adjusted gross income. Right now the highest rate is 15 percent for individuals in the 25 percent to 35 percent tax brackets.  Taxpayers in the 10 percent and 15 percent tax brackets pay no capital gains tax at all. Current law says this is scheduled to change in 2011.The top rate will return to 20 percent; the zero rate will revert to 10 percent. And with this administration and the party controlling Congress, this could get worse. Here is the wildcard: there is no guarantee they won’t make retroactive changes, either.

10. Watch out for health care changes

In light of the Massachusetts special election going to a Republican, health care changes could jump off the fast track; but nevertheless there could be ramifications for you tax wise if something does finally pass. Keep your eye on this and stay out from under the surgeon’s knife on this one!

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Assessment

There is nothing like a good tax advisor, and it pays to be as informed as possible.

Conclusion

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Tax Credits and Home Improvements for 2009-10

Income Tax Reduction Strategies

By Sean G. Todd; Esq, CPA, MTax, CFP® Sean G. Todd

Let’s take a look at how all ME-P readers can directly reduce income taxes in 2009. The use of tax credits are a very effective way to reduce how much you pay the IRS. A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in your tax liability. So, anyone doing home improvements? 

Tax Credits Available

We always have to follow the rules to make sure our expenditures qualify: 

1)  The home improvement must be placed in service from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010
2)  The improvement must be for taxpayer’s principal residence, except for geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, and small wind energy systems (where second homes qualify)
3)  $1,500 is the maximum total amount that can be claimed for all products placed in service in 2009 & 2010 for most home improvements, except for geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and small wind energy systems which are not subject to this cap, and are in effect through 2016
4) You must have a Manufacturer’s Certification Statement to qualify
5)  Improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on your 2009 taxes (filed by April 15, 2010) — use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version) — it will be available late 2009 or early 2010

Assessment

Note: Recording keeping: put your receipt with certification statements.

Conclusion

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Health Entity-Related Tax Credits

Some Unique Tax Basics for the Industry

By Edwin P. Morrow; III, JD, LLM

Staff Writers

In addition to the usual business deductions, medical professionals and those in healthcare should be aware of certain unique investment related tax credits. Much like personal credits, most of these credits are non-refundable, but may be allowed as carry forwards to the next year, or carry backs to prior years. 

Welfare to Work Credit

This credit is for medical employers who hire long-term family assistance recipients. It may be for up to 35% credit on applicable first year wages and 50% credit on second year wages. [See Form 8861] “Welfare to Work Credit”, for more details

Increased Research Expenditures Credit

This credit is applicable to health entity owners and startups. Research expenditures eligible for this credit must be to discover information that is technological in nature and intended for development of a new or improved business component. The research must relate to new or improved function, performance, reliability or quality. [See IRS Form 6765] “Credit for Increasing Research Activities”, for more details 

Disabled Access Credit

This credit is for eligible small medical and health entities that make a business accessible to disabled people. The credit may be 50% of qualifying expenditures. To be eligible, a small business must have gross receipts of $1 million or less, or have had no more than 30 employees during the preceding tax year. Eligible expenditures may include physical changes to the building, changes to the communication system, providing interpreters, acquiring or modifying equipment, or other accommodations for disabled access. [See Form 8826] “Disabled Access Credit”, for more details.

Empowerment Zone Employment Credit

This credit is to encourage employment in “empowerment zones” established by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Secretary of Agriculture. [See Form 8844] “Empowerment Zone Employment Credit”, for more details.

Indian Employment Credit

A credit of up to 20% of applicable in wages and health insurance benefits paid to qualified health employees who are enrolled members of an Indian tribe or their spouses.  Substantially all of the services performed must be within an Indian reservation and the employee must live on or near the reservation [See Form 8845] “Indian Employment Credit”, for more detail

Orphan Drug Credit

This credit is for qualified clinical drug testing expenses.  This credit may be for up to 50% of expenses incurred [See Form 8820] “Orphan Drug Credit”, for more details.

Assessment

What credits did we miss; please advise?

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Have you used any of these tax credit strategies in the past?

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